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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Interesting. 
3rd-Aug-2009 12:27 pm
Hearth
Saw a reference in someone's post to someone announcing that she felt marginalized in fandom because she had a child. Not linking to the post because that comment wasn't the point of the post, and I don't want to derail... but it's a comment that made me go "Huh, interesting."

Obviously I feel that there should be more representations of mothers and families in genre fiction; I was on a panel about exactly that at Wiscon. Genre's skewed towards 20somethings in leather pants. I am a 30something in leather pants with a teenage daughter, and I still have adventures!

But I myself have never felt marginalized because I'm a mother.

I was the first of my friends to have a child. I didn't know anyone my age with a kid my daughter's age til I met irana when I moved to Atlanta. I didn't have a group of kids Elayna's age with parents roughly around my age until I moved to Boston (range is about 35-50 here).

But I never felt marginalized, even when I was alone.

I've been a mother my entire adult life; I got pregnant with Elayna when I was 20. She was due before I could legally drink. So she is not something I view as separate in my life, if that makes sense. I was attending cons with her strapped to my chest in a sling (Hal Clement took a picture of me reading to baby Elayna at Tropicon); I brought friends to panels with me so we could take turns taking toddler Elayna outside if she got restless. I brought little Elayna to DragonCon babysitting; teenage Elayna roams the halls at Arisia, and is on panels right alongside the grownups.

I have not noticed anyone having a problem with this.

I can't really extricate "being a mom" from anything else about me; it's like being short or being a writer or wearing glasses. Incontrovertible parts of me. I'm a mom in fandom. I'm a short person in fandom. No big. It just is. If anything, I have to think about being short at cons more than I have to think about Being a Mom; at this age, I can turn Elayna loose with a list of what panels we're on and a list of rendezvous times and places and twenty bucks for the dealers' room, whereas my height (or lack thereof) means that I often have to get assistance from a tall friend to navigate through crowded lobbies (because all I see is a wall of torsos).

If anything, I find that people dig the fact that I'm a mom. zarhooie was only the first to say "I want you to be my mom, too!"

So. Y'know. Just some thoughts. *shrug*
Comments 
3rd-Aug-2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
This post made me kind of tilt my head and think, "bwuh"?

Similar to you, I was 20 when I had Kritter. Then 3 weeks later, I turned 21. Her first Renaissance Festival was when she was 2 weeks old, and her first con (by matter of not knowing where they were in Indiana, and then simple finances, etc.. when we moved up to MN...not by lack of interest) was when she was 4 and we've been going ever since.

So I sat here going yes yes yes...absolutely yes. And I've *never* ever been marginalized for being a mom. Or perhaps I never noticed or cared. Being involved is just something we do...and we do it as a family.
3rd-Aug-2009 05:04 pm (UTC)

I suspect if you were an older mother, things may have been different.
3rd-Aug-2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
Which leads to the question of how much of the marginalization is "older" vs. how much is "mother"...and that is an interesting question.
3rd-Aug-2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
Depending on the con, fandom can tend to be older-than-me in general. Younger crowds at PiCon, older crowds at Boskone, et cetera. So marginalization of older people would be very situation-specific, I think.
3rd-Aug-2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
That's a good point. There's probably a double-whammy in there somewhere.
3rd-Aug-2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Hm. Elaborate?
3rd-Aug-2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
Do you think a 20 something Mom would get more attention than a 40 something Mom? :)
3rd-Aug-2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
What sort of attention? And... whee does the attention tangent stem from? The post is about marginalization...
3rd-Aug-2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
I would call inattention a symptom of marginalization. How do you mean it?
3rd-Aug-2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
I don't know about absolute age, but I can see how there might be a difference between someone who became active in fandom as a parent, and one who participated for a long time before having children. In the first case, it's what you're used to, in the second, your interactions with people may well change as a result of your change in status to a parent.
3rd-Aug-2009 11:22 pm (UTC)
This is what has happened to me. I do think it's a matter of what I was/am used to.
3rd-Aug-2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
I'm profoundly glad you have never felt marginalized in fandom as a mother. Nonetheless, I can understand why other parents might.

The healthiest reaction I've seen to children in fandom and similar hobbies is exactly what you've done with Elayna. Encourage the child to participate fully in the experience, keeping in mind her age limitations. Do things together that are of interest to the child, not just stuff you like to do.

If that doesn't help--and sometimes if doesn't--I hope parents try to remember that Mommy marginalization isn't quite like marginalization due to race, age or gender. You can get away from it on occasion by leaving the kids with friends/relatives, and it only lasts until your children are grown.
3rd-Aug-2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Fuck yeah.
3rd-Aug-2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
There have been,and still are, some very anti-child parts of sci-fi fandom, and I suspect you've missed it because you're not at that end of things. I was told 10 years ago at a Disclave gripe session that it was unreasonable to bring children to cons and expose con goers to them, and absurd to think there would be babysitting or a play area.Boskone in the past, and an attempt by Readercon now show it's not exactly dead and gone.
3rd-Aug-2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
*nod* I was about to cite the Readercon policy a prime example of marginalization; by definition, being anti-child means marginalizing the parents, and Readercon actively does this.
4th-Aug-2009 12:47 am (UTC)
I have actually sat in on panels and had panelists express their dislike of children in general and children at cons. Been at other cons where it was totally acceptable to have kids and I felt welcomed.

And as a kid at cons, tagging along with family ( and a well behaved kid at that) I remember quite a bit of anti kid stuff directed at me. I actually remember Avram Davidson making a gigantic effort to engage me and talk to me about books when he noticed I was being shunned. I will always remember him for that. I was totally star struck and talked about it for days afterwards.

I can see it from both sides, really, feeling it isn't a kid environment at cons and at the same time, we're raising little fans and we haven't stopped being fans when we became parents...

4th-Aug-2009 12:48 am (UTC)
I have actually sat in on panels and had panelists express their dislike of children in general and children at cons. Been at other cons where it was totally acceptable to have kids and I felt welcomed.

And as a kid at cons, tagging along with family ( and a well behaved kid at that) I remember quite a bit of anti kid stuff directed at me. I actually remember Avram Davidson making a gigantic effort to engage me and talk to me about books when he noticed I was being shunned. I will always remember him for that. I was totally star struck and talked about it for days afterwards.

I can see it from both sides, really, feeling it isn't a kid environment at cons and at the same time, we're raising little fans and we are still part of fandom, just with new additions to our entourage...

12th-Aug-2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
There was no Disclave 10 years ago - if you are refering to the DC area convention.
12th-Aug-2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
since my kid is now almost 15 and she was a toddler it was probably more than 10 years ago, but the gripe session did happen, there were at least 3 other pissed off moms there too. Not surprised there hasn't been many since then
13th-Aug-2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
Well, the Death of Disclave was due a pair of "adults" being Really Really Stupid. Assorted (and/or possibly sordid) details here: http://www.wsfa.org/journal/j97/6/

-- Michael Walsh
3rd-Aug-2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
I feel the same way. I might not choose to attempt DragonCon with twin nine-month olds, but that isn't because the fandoms have shunned us, it's because DragonCon with twin nine-month olds isn't _my_ idea of fun. For them or for me with them. But I'm sure there will be plenty of fannish things for us to get into as time goes on and it's not like they aren't being exposed to gaming and the like at home and at friends' homes. There will be cons again in the future and we will all live happily ever after.
3rd-Aug-2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Fandom is so wide and varied, and fans participate in different activities at cons. Some fans are not comfortable with or around kids; some activities are not noise-friendly, no matter how much the participants would otherwise welcome kids.

Depending on what you do, and who with, I can see this happening, though it gets much better once the kid is old enough to wander the con mostly unsupervised (which isn't the same age for all kids).

But I agree that it's sad.
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